Improving public science communication: a case study of scientists’ needs when communicating beyond the academy

Taniya J. Koswatta, J. A. Parrella, H. R. Leggette, S. Ramasubramanian, T. Rutherford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We investigated how to improve PSC at a large, public university with high research activity by examining scientists’ interest and enjoyment in PSC, their perceived aptitude of PSC skills, the channels they use for PSC, their reasons for choosing to participate in PSC, and the tools they need to engage effectively. We conducted a case study and collected data from scientists across five colleges (n = 266). Results suggest that scientists who do not engage in PSC need external support from their institution, and scientists who do engage in PSC continue to engage because they feel intrinsically motivated. Results revealed that communication skills development training is needed to improve scientists’ perceived ability to mitigate science controversies, evaluate the effectiveness of communication strategies, and manage science communications projects. We also found that scientists who used social media for PSC enjoy and contribute to PSC more than those who did not use social media. However, PSC contribution varied based on scientists’ ethnicity, years of research experience, faculty title, and college. Female scientists need more help than males do in developing their confidence and increasing their enjoyment in PSC. These results can help provide insight into the PSC environment at universities of similar stature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-191
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Case study
  • science communication
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication


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